This fall, the Durgee Leadership Team (DLT), at Durgee Junior High School, presented its annual series of skits on sensitive school issues to the school's eighth-graders. This year's skits had a strong emphasis on bullying behaviors in school, in light of recent tragic incidents of bullying around the country.
With the assistance of their advisor, guidance counselor Christopher Marciniak, the ninth-graders wrote all of the skits that they performed. The skits highlighted tips and strategies for combating the three forms of bullying - physical, verbal and psychological. Besides bullying, the DLT members included information on Internet safety, rumors, academic support, the district's dress code, diversity and sports contract fulfillment.
Marciniak formed the DLT in 2005 to identify student leaders at Durgee and to draw on their strengths in order to promote a positive school environment. Each year a group of Durgee teachers selects the DLT members, based on each student's academic performance, interpersonal skills, and motivation.
"I believe the only way a program like this can work in a school is if the administration and the entire staff work collaboratively to support and promote it," Marciniak said.
He noted that the school's administration and staff welcome a student-centered guidance office, allowing for the development of programs at Durgee that positively impact a student's academic, social and emotional growth.
The youth leaders will create several activities throughout the school year to keep their peers informed and to educate them on various issues.
Their educational efforts aren't limited to Durgee's classrooms. Over the last couple of years the DLT has been traveling to the district's elementary schools to educate fifth-graders about recycling and being environmentally responsible. Earlier this year the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA) recognized the DLT as an area leader in recycling. On its website, OCRRA notes that the DLT's ability to communicate on a peer-to-peer basis has made its recycling message effective.
This year there are 38 ninth-graders in the DLT. They are: